In order to define what is a global civil society, we need to elaborate on the definitions of the civil society concept first. According to University of Colorado (2005), the term civil society is mostly used for social relations and organizations that are outside the state and government control. At times, it is also considered outside of economic and business sphere.
Usually, the term civil society refers to non-governmental organizations and associations consisted of people that belong to these groups because of social and political reasons such as academic institutes, business associations, community organizations, consumer protection bodies, development cooperation group, human rights advocates, labour unions, environmental campaigns, peace activists, ethnic lobbies, religious institutions, foundations, women’s networks, farmers’ groups, youth campaigns.Being institutionally private from the state, therefore civil society is non-official and non-governmental. Thus, this means political parties are not included in civil society.
As civilsociety does not have any expectations about gaining the state control, the political parties cannot be considered as the civil society.Another important point is that civil society is a non-commercial realm. Civil society cannot be a business, as it cannot distribute or seek profit. They do not return their profits to a manager or an owner. In this sense, companies, firms and cooperatives are not part of the civil society. Likewise, if a media tool is seeking for profit, it cannot be a part of civil society; however, if the media tool is only created to serve the civil society, without any profit concerns; it could be included in this society. For example, if a media channel is created by an NGO to spread their word and aims to be a part of human rights advocate, it can be an actor in the civil society.
According to United Nations’ definition, “civil society is the third sector of society along with government and business.”1 Therefore, it differs from the market and state. According to Jan Aart Scholte (1999), “Civil society exists when people make concerted efforts through voluntary associations to mould rules: both official, formal, legal arrangements and informal social constructs.
‘Civil society’ is the collective noun, while ‘civic’ groups, organizations, etc. are the individual elements within civil society.”Here, it shall be discussed what is considered ‘civil.
‘ Some scholars argue that if the civil society is defined around non-state subjects, therefore we need to underline that some non-state actors are not particularly ”civil.” (Srinivas, 2005) However, for instance, it can be considered as ‘common sense’ not including ISIS, or Italian mafia as a civil society actor. Therefore, we prefer to define civil society, also as a non-violent entity.If we look at the resources of civil society, we can see that some civil society actors are relatively luckier than others. All civil societies have experienced and evolved from different situations and backgrounds Therefore, some of them can reach the funds easily, some of them cannot; some of them may have a larger number of members, so they can access multiple communities; however, some of them may not have the same opportunity.Civil Society. (n.
d.). Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.
un.org/en/sections/resources-different-audiences/civil-society/4Likewise, some of them may use technology very effectively while some of them do not afford it.In conclusion, in this paper, we take the definition of civil society made by the World Bank, however we also add private individuals (citizens) as well as organizations: ”citizens, non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural,political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations.”When it comes to global civil society, Keane (2003) defines ‘global civil society’ as non-governmental structures and activities, with the important feature of being across vast geographic distances and deliberately organizing themselves and conducting their cross-border social activities, business and politics outside the boundaries of governmental structures.In global civil society definition, the most important element is to be cross-border relationship and activities. The relationship is emerging from economic and political demand of global civil society. Additionally, activities entail heterogeneous actors of global civil society.
Global civil society actors could be active in different ways. They could be narrow self-interest of a national social group; could be self-interests of common to social group in several countries; could be interests of specific social groups by non-interested actors; and could be a global common good. Differences of global civil society are based on these different perspectives. Economic and political demand of civil society could be summarized like global democracy, human rights and peace in the state system; global economic justice in the economic system; and global social justice and environmental sustainability in the economic and state system.In this paper, we just add two other dimensions to the definition of civil society, to define what we mean by global civil society.
Global civil society, is the civil society operating across borders, and have wider range of actors to put pressure on. More than the civil society only operating within a country, between state and the market; global civil society also works on multinational countries, intergovernmental organizations etc.5In order to understand whether INGOs and social movements constitute a global civil society, we shall also define what an INGO and social movement is.According to the UN definition of NGOs, non-government organization is an international organization; that is not established by inter-governmental agreement; not profit seeking; not political party or school; concerning with human rights in principle; therefore, it covers what we mean by ‘international non-governmental organizations.’When it comes to social movements, William Little (2013) defines them as purposeful, organized groups, striving to work toward a common goal, attempting to create change (Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring), to resist change (anti-globalization movement), or to provide a political voice to those otherwise disenfranchised (civil rights movements). However, the social movements that are only visible and stuck within the borders of a country, cannot be considered as a part of the global civil society. Therefore, we include the definition of a ‘global social movement.’ Pianta (2005) defines them as ”waves of cross-border collective social mobilization within global civil society, based on permanent or occasional organizations, networks and campaigns, moving from strong values and emerging identities, challenging social, economic or political power, demanding change in international issues.” In this paper, we find Pianta’s definition compatible to our understanding of a social movement.